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Not all smooth sailing as Comanche gears up for Hobart

By Jasper Bruce / aap

Andoo Comanche’s crew are vowing to stay on their toes as they defend their Sydney to Hobart line honours title, lest they repeat a serious crash that sent two sailors to hospital.

Comanche has blitzed through preparations for this year’s Hobart, where she will be one of four 100ft supermaxis jostling to reach Constitution Dock the quickest.

Comanche holds the line-honours record and is arguably the fastest monohull in the world, crossing the line first at all four events of this year’s Sydney Blue Water Pointscore Series thus far.

But Comanche’s strength, her unmatched power, can be her greatest weakness, a point reiterated to skipper John Winning Jr and his crew earlier this year.

Andoo Comanche skipper John Winning believes the Sydney to Hobart line hours record is under threat. Image by Dean Lewins/AAP PHOTOS

Sailing off-shore near the site of another recent line honours victory, the Brisbane to Hamilton Island, the boat ran aground under motor.

Comanche only briefly scraped the bottom of her hull in the shallow water, but it was enough to send a jolt across the huge vessel.

The impact sent crew member Phil Jameson careering into the companionway, landing head-first and cracking his skull open.

“He was unconscious,” Winning told AAP.

“He doesn’t have any recollections of the hours in between but we were having conversations with him and he doesn’t remember any of that.”

Fellow crew member Julien Cressant suffered a leg injury so painful he was struggling to walk.

The silverware up for grabs in the Sydney to Hobart. Image by Dean Lewins/AAP PHOTOS

“A couple of really good men got seriously injured, and they’re probably two of the toughest blokes on the boat,” Winning told AAP.

“It shows you the tiniest thing on this thing with the loads and the size and the weight of it, it can really hurt you if you get something wrong, and it did.”

Both men have since recovered and are committed to joining Winning aboard Comanche from December 26.

“It’s a good warning sign for us to always be on our toes,” Winning said.

“The same thing can happen if you do anything wrong, it will come back and bite you this boat. It’s not forgiving.”

Winning and his crew will spend the next month preparing for and contesting the Cabbage Tree Island race and Big Boat Challenge, as well as ironing out any remaining issues with their boat.

Winning is remaining alert to any mechanical issues after the engine and hydraulics failed during the Bird Island Race earlier this month.

“It was over an hour, maybe two or three hours, before they got it fixed,” Winning said.

“We still won the race on line honours but we were lucky there were no other 100-footers or we might’ve had a bit on our hands to win that.

“The fact that in the last race we had a major problem is a little concerning.

“There’s still a long way to go (until the Hobart) but we want to know what our back-up plans are for those situations.”

Andoo Comanche claims line honours in last year’s Sydney to Hobart race. Image by Linda Higginson/AAP PHOTOS

It would be a brave punter to back against Comanche once those issues are ironed out.

Winning is confident that in the right conditions, his team can break the line honours record – one day, nine hours and 15 minutes – Comanche set in 2017.

“We want it windy, aiming at the finish line and as flat as possible on the water and as downwind as possible,” Winning said.

“If we got the same conditions as 2017, we would like to think that as a crew, with the fact we’ve got new sail packaging and everything, we’re every shot in beating that record.”